Recently I have been thinking whether wargaming is an entertainment productive/beneficial enough for me to spend any more time on it. These thoughts were connected with a new addition to the family which quickly encouraged me to re-assess my daily schedule. Due to my hyperactive nature, there was not so much idling involved in what I normally did throughout the day but new challenges related to the little guy meant that any leftover idle time had to go. I started with a reduction of time spent on reading the internet and/or playing computer games nearly to zero. But was there still some room for improvement? Immediately, I considered wargaming.
This hobby is a time sink, honestly. When you consider all the time you have to spend to figure out what you want to buy, find a good offer, take care of the shipment and then assemble, paint and play you end up with a pretty hefty time investment. What is the return on it then?
Well, here is my list of top 4 returns on investment associated with wargaming (I could go on and on but the article would be too long :P) :
IMPROVEMENT OF ENTERPRENEURIAL SKILLS
The hobby costs a lot. Period. With my geeky hoarder nature I will have a hard time parting with my minis to raise enough funds to get my next fix. This means that I have to be really careful with my spendings and only invest when a good offer pops up. Because of this, I have learned how to use e-bay apps, negotiate bulk purchases, use promotions to buy cheap stuff and sell it with a profit. All in all, the hobby made me a pretty hard bargainer :)
BOOST IN ANALYTICAL THINKING
Ever sat there in front of Easy Army or Forces of War for hours to get your best company composition? I suppose most people would think I am crazy. But reflecting on it I can see it as a mental exercise that is close to solving puzzles. You get your brain working hard to analyze all the possible options your guys can be up against in a game of Flames of War and find the right method of getting the upper hand.
An even bigger thing is the game itself. It teaches you to make the right decisions based on facts (terrain setup, enemy unit's positioning/stats) and assumptions (understanding of your opponent's strategy). It is like trying to get a very complicated process to produce a defined output: a sound win for your troops. It might sound silly, but I find wargaming a very good preparation for my work in an IT department (I am an IT Service Management specialist dealing mostly with process governance) because considering all the possible options and looking at issues from different angles is the core of conducting a battle of miniature soldiers as well as my job.
ENHANCEMENT OF WILLPOWER
Playing wargames for the last ~20 years has taught me one basic rule. Never give up. NEVER. It is a game of endless possibilities and dice. My job as a general is not to sit there and complain about how my dice were bad (although since I am a bit of a control freak I sometimes get a bit frustrated). In games that are not going according to plan my job is to find the winning option in a palette of options that is reduced each time a dice roll goes bad. At the end of the day, each loss teaches you more than a victory does. Focusing on what happened in the past obscures your vision of what is possible in the future. Forget about your mistakes. Concentrate on getting your next move right.
INCREASE IN SOCIAL SKILLS
Managing expectations around the game is a skill that I gained throughout the years and also extended it to some areas of my private life. What I understood is that the game is related to an unspoken, unwritten social contract. Every player that I sit down to play with approaches the table with some assumptions and expectations of how the game will be played. These expectations are based on years of experience with all kinds of games, starting with tic-tac-toe and ending with behemoths like Twilight Struggle. An example of such expectation might be: if I play in a tournament I will normally not advise my opponent how to move his troops so that he can counter my moves. Through wargaming I learned to adjust my style of play to meet at least some of these expectations and make the game better for everybody. In practice, this means that I avoid a win at all costs attitude since it never does anybody any good. Same goes for private life. A good lesson coming from wargaming.
These are only several aspects of wargaming that can be beneficial for one's private life or work. I think the big issue is that unlike for sports, there is no one responsible to spread this kind of knowledge around and make people aware that playing social games (including wargames) is in fact a very good mental and social exercise.
All in all, looking back at all these years I spent wargaming, I do not regret a minute I spent on it. I already know that I will try to involve my newborn son in all the good stuff that wargaming brings with it! :)